Tag Archives: angle-shooting

At Least I Got My Maltese Flag

Malta was the second last stop on my latest Euro trip. It came after Paris and before Copenhagen. I was thrilled to be back in jacket-ess weather for the first time since PCA! The island was warm and inviting in both climate and hospitality. The first thing I noticed at the airport, however, was the interesting dialect that was spoken – a fusion of Afro-Asiatic influences. I was amused that so many X’s were used and giggled to myself while trying to pronounce various words.

During check-in at the boutique Hotel Juliani we were introduced to a refreshing and exotic beverage, a locally-made soft drink called Kinnie. It is made with bitter oranges and tastes like a hybrid between root beer and orange soda. I’m not really a pop drinker, but this stuff is legit. We even saw tourists taking back 24 packs of the stuff on the flight out of the country.

Anyhow after a quick nap and confirming the length of late-registration I quickly made my way over to the Casino Portomaso for a satellite to the main event. The value was too great to be missed as anyone who has ever played an IPT will understand what I mean. The turbo didn’t last long and I went home with one of six discounted seats. I also got a chance to shoot the shit with Claudio Pagano (no, he’s not related to Luca), whom I played with throughout the IPT San Remo 1k event. He is quite the popular guy amongst the Italians due to his always playful and friendly nature. That night Claudio and his friends told me about this 24 hour joint on the island, which would set a precedent as the spot to for every proceeding night.

The next day was the ladies event – a tournament I almost never sell action for and always skip off to with pretty high hopes but finish with my tail between my legs. I thought my luck was finally going to change near the end of this one. I had a quarter of the chips in play when we were 9-handed and 6 paid. Buuut I got ahead of myself and during dinner break I was peer-pressured to reg in the FTOPS 10-game with a lot of action bought. Yes, I would be playing this final table and a 1k mixed game event at the same time. WTF was I thinking?! It didn’t seem so bad at the time, since the ladies event was a turbo and I’d be 1-tabling anyway, but it got super tricky when 1) the floor guy changed his mind about me being allowed to multi-table, and 2) there was no Wifi connection from my new seat, so I had to run back and forth for a bit to another table. What a disaster. Long story short, I ended seeing about 20 hands total in the FTOPS and mis-read my all-in Badugi hand while in a live one, then busting the ladies event at the feature table without even cashing when this one lady (who was maliciously making fun of me in Italian the whole time) decided to snap-call an all-in pot-size bet on the turn with J9o on a K97Tr board vs. my AA. I proceed to lose two more flips after the Q came and abruptly ended off the stage with empty pockets. Big sigh. At least this one camera guy on contract was kind and patient enough to interview me for some stuff he was shooting. It made me feel special but inadequate at the same time, since I have yet to win or even cash in a ladies event since WSOP last year and I’ve been playing my share.

Day 1 of the main was pretty awesome. I started off at a table sitting beside Marvin Rettenmaier and I think I rubbed off a bit of his run-good. He did say in Venice that if I taught him how to play mixed games he would teach me how to hit stuff. I ended the day 5th in chips and was excited and eager to have an equally amazing day 2. I woke up early enough to have breakfast, get pumped, and pick out an outfit for the tables (yes, this is part of the battle for a female player). As I’m in the shower, Dom pounds on my door and I wonder, “wtf, I haven’t taken that long…”, only to hear once I got out that we were getting kicked out of our very comfortable hotel. Apparently Dom thought he had booked for four nights and overlooked that they were completely booked for that final day, so we had to check out asap. I had not anticipated booking, packing, cabbing, and checking into another hotel to be part of my Day 2 prep. Boy was I peeeeeeeeved. Once we got into our room at the Hilton I was in a much better mood. What an amazing view overlooking the flawless sky and rich navy blue water. There was even a full moon that night which made the scene completely majestic and surreal. If I was still in my artsy phase I would’ve snap-painted a picture.

Ok, so there was an interesting situation about me showing my cards in the main. Most of day two was smooth-sailing. I was transferred to a different table near the bubble when I lose a massive 3b multi-way pot on the flop with a set vs. flush draw. I rebuild a bit and then this hand happens: Seat 9, an old man who seems friendly but perhaps a little on the senile side opens his hand on the river when his opponent is tanking on the turn to his AI donkbet on an AKQJ board. His hand is A4 & the floor comes over and his defense is that he heard his opponent say fold, and the other guy is obviously pissed because if he’s tanking on that board he has A4 beat, but is now unable to call because the old man already showed his hand. I didn’t hear anything from the other guy but there were a bunch of reporters around as we were down to just a few tables and there was a lot of Italian being spoken. I couldn’t be sure and was otherwise uninvolved.

This is my hand: same guy, who’s overall very nitty (but then does stuff like the A4 donk-shove hand) opens, I flat with JTs from lp. Flop is JT2 gin. He checks, I bet 2/3, he flats with a pot-sized bet behind. Turn 2, he checks and I decided to check. Given stack sizes I am never folding if I check. I started the hand with about twice his stack and average in chips. River is a 4 and he snap-shoves into me. I am giggly/a little confused and flip over my hand in a playful (not slow-roll) way before I said call. It wasn’t meant to be ill-natured, I really was rather amused and wanted to demonstrate this by adding more character and plot to the already dramatic table and giving the guy an opportunity to muck after I call. I thought I was being fun. Right when I flipped over my hand, he started to flip over his. I quickly put my hand and yelled/signalled “stop”, so he asked, “do you fold?” and I exclaimed “NO!” He then turned over his AK LOL!

So I announce the call again, but by this time the floor is called over and we wait for a lengthy decision. The floor finally decided that I could have the pot in the middle but he would keep his remaining stack. I was also given my first poker penalty of a one round timeout. You should understand that I’m used to cash games where flipping over your hand when completing the action is acceptable. I didn’t realize this was a big no-no, especially after the ruling in villain’s previous hand. It wasn’t the same scenario, but no one ever stated that an exposed hand was dead since he just got away with it! I was pretty tilted that he could pull the same sort of shenanigans twice, but more so because I took my eyes off the prize in a tournament I should be taking more seriously.

This fiasco cost me much more than his remaining chips. The actual bubble was super long – two and a half hours. I doubled up a shorty to became one myself, and no amount of shoving could get me back the stack I once had and put me in contention for good money again. If I had just plainly called he would’ve been out, the bubble would have busted earlier, and I would be in a good spot to go much deeper in that tournament. At least I got my Malta flag with the min-cash.

Whew, got a little tilted at myself after talking about that one again. For a change of topic, Malta is also the place I met my first Scots, David “Harry Potter” Vamplew and Andrew “Some Guy” Ferguson. I knew the British had a special knack for being marathon drinkers, but these fellas don’t mess around. Actually the first time I heard about them was when my roommate Dom drunk-texted me while he was still in Venice after his high-roller final table (a very prestigious two-table sit-n-go), and let me know how much I was missing out by leaving early – he had just met two of the top-earning/only Scottish poker players and they’re paying random Venetians to jump into the water for 200 euros a head. I wish I had extra bills lying around to wipe my ass with. It was a good thing the reputations that preceded them were pretty misleading. I mean, sure Some Guy can be a complete jackass at times (especially before he starts drinking), but overall his head and heart are in the right place (you should see how he talks about his girlfriend Claire), and Vampy is even more agreeable than the real Harry Potter.

Our last night in Malta was definitely not my classiest. To celebrate our various triumphs, we all decided to skip the FTOPS main and have some real fun. We first met up with the Scots at a fake Scottish karaoke bar. We left soon after to a Texan-style steak house. I don’t eat slabs of meat very often, but this was probably the best slab of meat I’d ever eaten. Gracefully, it would not stay in my stomach for long. After food we went to the bar district, “the intersection with all the red dots”. The street might have been a tad shady with a ton of open-concept hookah bars, strip joints, cops in street fights, and drunk people looking off balconies. We managed to pop into a bar with the cheapest bottles I’d ever seen – it was a measly 40e for a bottle of Absolut with 6 red bulls. Unfortunately here was too much blood in the washroom so we had to leave. We hopped to a place a few blocks down with a guy in a horse head. The Mojitos took awhile to arrive but I enjoyed the music and watching the horse go nuts dancing and humping random things.

After this place closed down we bumped into this Swedish guy who was at my last table. He took a nice pot off me and told me to work on his name when I couldn’t say it properly. I asked him to spell it but his Swedish accent was so exotic I couldn’t understand the letters either. After getting some vodka in my system “Jaokim” isn’t so tough. We went back to the 24 hour place and had a hoot after bumping into two other groups there. The super friendly IPT staff and Claudio with his Italian friends including Luca Moschitta, a well-mannered PokerStars pro I played with at my second table of the day. Dom felt obligated to yell out, “HAHA, I took all your chips” to him as they walked in because hanging out with classy people is what I’m about. I only remember buying one round but somehow the night did not end until 7 a.m. You know they’re a good friend when they help hold your hair back. The Swedes were lucky enough to go to the airport straight from the bar with their early flight. Heading to Copenhagen at noon was one of the most difficult journeys of my life. I left a gross vodka puddle at the airport as a souvenir.

I would consider moving to Malta one day. It’s quite the destination for expats – I met a very nice Swedish poker-playing lady, Anna. She was super supportive during the main, and I always feel  warm and fuzzy to be rooted on by people I’ve just met, especially women. Too many of them can be unnecessarily catty. I also met a Canadian expat whose girlfriend plays online, which was pretty cool. The weather there is generally nice, the food is reasonably priced, the people pleasant, poker is legal, it’s close to Italy, it’s a great place to sail (something I intend on doing a lot of when the time is right), and it’s tax-free!

Observations and confrontations

I’m still here in the City of Angels getting my grind on at the infamous Commerce Casino. Been making efforts to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle by getting some exercise each day before sitting on my ass for a dozen hours, but it can be a problem sometimes when my schedule is so messed up. The game is not as good as it was during the holidays, but there is still lots of pocket-lining potential after tweaking my leaks and making conscious efforts to develop my play.

A player made an interesting observation about the city of L.A. the other day. He was from out-of-town and commented about the weird “energy” that was at the Commerce, which I have since reflected on. The casino itself is in an industrial and predominently Spanish-speaking town about 15 minutes from downtown L.A. It is the world’s largest poker casino with over 200+ tables split into two main sections and with services you’d find at any high-end gambling facility, but it feels more like a chaotic sports arena rather than a high-roller’s joint. The players vary from complete noobs to bracelet-holding pros, and casual players consisting of fratboys to celebs and strippers. The tables are crammed into a grid with little room to maneuvre in between, which can make it difficult when there is a heirarchy of floorpersons, chiprunners, servers, porters, cocktail waitresses, masseuses, Blimpberry girls, candy girls, and railbirds fighting for legroom. The atmosphere is further characterized by a dizzying spectrum of noises from these parties with competing interests, so one can imagine that it can be more difficult than other places to stay goal-oriented. Ah, but it is a place that tests true character.

My friend Tri has been consistently encouraging me to work hard for the next 6 months after cramming some numbers, and he put my situation quite bluntly into perspective: I can either focus tirelessly for the next little while and accumulate an income equal to the top 5% of Canadian earners, or I could let my mind and eyes wander off and be distracted by the naturally temptation-inducing L.A. lifestyle as a young person. Q also constantly warns me of the common mistake of many poker players to get caught-up with too much partying in the city after moving there and being forced to return home. I will not let this happen so long as I still want to play. Yes, I do miss the unequivocal VIP treatment from my home casino and not feeling like I’m being thrown into a ring of ravenous vultures everytime I step into the pit, but I am stepping up and thinking long-term.

Sometimes I surprise myself thinking about how much I’ve changed since I was a punkass teenager. I’ve recently been experimenting with an ultra-aggressive gear that seems to instigate confrontation from dumb players. Well, dumb people would be more accurate. As I was trying to extract information when faced with a strange river bet as the preflop aggressor in a pot against a guy who was taking my style as a personal attack, this annoying girl who was attempting to flirt with everyone at the table started ranting about how I was taking a long time and directed a series of rude comments at me instead of simply calling time. I gave in to the pressure and folded my hand as the donk villain turned over a bluff. At this point, I confronted her rude behaviour and lack of etiquette, and the argument became quite heated as crowds were drawn. If this was years ago, I would not have hesitated to kick her ass to Beijing, and for the most part, I am proud of myself for handling the situation the way I did. I felt especially blessed when Tri came over to my table and started wrecking havoc by antagonizing the bitch and taking everyone out of their poker comfort zone (what he does incredibly well). Unfortunatly he lost to a rivered 1-outer (quads over boat) after putting her exactly where he wanted, but that did nothing to undermine the kind gesture just the same. I think it’s called the tranference of negative energy or something? lol. He ended up sucking out all the anger from me and took the burden instead.

My observation of L.A. based on my experiences thus far, is that this city is very spoiled and often ungrateful. The people are blessed with an amazing climate and fingertip access to the finest things in the world, and yet they appear to be bitter and unappreciative. It is also often depressing to watch the flock of older immigrants who appear to be the hardest workers in the casino with the general maintenance labour they do, but who also get paid the least since their line of duty does not include hustling for tips. As I have made myself familiar with the gratuity system here, I find myself creating excuses to tip these people and reward considerate behaviour from all the staff. I think it’s the little things that count. There is also a drastic difference between the mentality of a selfish employee and that of a benevolent one which can be observed in this simple illustration: after finishing my meal, I put a tip to the side of the table symbolizing that it can be cleared. A selfish floorperson who already hustles for tips comes over when he sees the coin and just pushes the table to the side while pocketing the money (it is not his job to clear tables), while on another occasion an infinitely more compassionate worker will call over a porter (who do all the dirty work) so he can work for that dollar instead. Perhaps example B was simply doing his job, but after seeing what he could have done, I was touched and tipped him as well.

I really hope I won’t turn into a bitch, but so far it appears that you need mighty thick skin to make it out here.

Victim of angle-shooting retardedness or too tired for good judgment?

Ok so after having breakfast at the sports bar with a pint and trying to resolve Tri’s new year’s dilemma, we both sat down at the same $1500 table. We decided we would try to keep the heads up matches grounded to only small pots since it is rather silly to gun for each other when there are so many other worthwhile opponents in the game. He was up to his usual antics in no time (uber LAG supremo), so I mostly stayed out of his way until I realized he was stuck in 6th gear and needed a kick in the nuts to play some better poker. Being up a few hundred bucks and realizing pretty much every player at the table was gunnin for Tri’s money, I decided to get a table change and wound up beside the world’s drunkest asian player (he would make Scotty Nguyen look like a gentleman). He made things quite uncomfortable as he constantly leaned inches from my face every hand whispering broken drunken Engrish, but because he said nothing but nice things and tried to offer me advice on how the only way to make money at poker is to play squeeky tight, I decided not to be a poor sport and complain to the floorman. The table fluctuated between decent action and weak-tight uneventfulness, so I thought many times about getting a table change and even asked the supervisor for one that never got responded. I understand they work on tips and believe me, I am very generous if they go out of their way to help me, but I want to see that they are proactive and would prefer to reward them only after they have granted my request.

Anywho, so after a couple of hours of creating pots for myself from being card-dead and being forced to fold everytime I get played back at when making a move, I am hovering around even until I catch myself having to work way to hard to win pots and calling river bets super light from not reading the board properly. That’s definitely my cue to call it an even night, so I rack up my chips and was ready to leave when the guy to my right tells me I might as well see 1 more free hand. Meanwhile, a new player comes in at seat 1 (I am at seat 9), and appears to buy-in for $500. I recognize her as a dealer who often hangs out in the room after her shift, but have never actually seen her play before. On my last hand, LAG to my right blind raises, I call with 22 and 7 players end up in the $175 pot. Flop comes K72 all spades. I am not exaggerating when I say that within a span of 5 seconds, all 6 players check before I get a chance to process the board, at which point I had to announce to the dealer right when he was about to burn that I had not yet acted. At this point, the players who know what they’re talking about defend me profusely as they make jokes about checking out of turn really fast so players before you won’t get a chance to bet, while the donks who want a free turn tell me it was my fault I was not on top of the action. The floorperson gets called over, and even though the dealer chick apologized for checking out of turn and stating obviously that I had not acted, the retard who got trained by monkeys tell me it’s my responsibility to act and to stop the dealer before the burn is peeled. Note that the turn isn’t even out yet. I notified the dealer immediately when I realized he had skipped me (even he admitted this to be the floorperson and confessed it was his fault), and yet the 3 donks arguing for a free card get the benefit of the ruling. I am pissed and tell him he is ridiculously wrong, but am left with no contingency as he tells me the ruling is final. The turn is a brick 8. I replaced my rejected $100 bet into the pot and asian lady min-raises me to $200. Everyone folds around and I look over at her stack, still 3 piles of $5 for $300 and some change. I shove and she calls me with a flopped flush. River is a brick, and the dealer tells me I owe $600 something more. Before I could process what happened, she brings out a stack of white chips ($100’s) she had behind on the other side and I am stuck for the night on this life-tilt hand. Then I hear comments from the players about how she is known for checking out of turn for info and angle-shooting to maximize. WTF>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I should have been more careful and made sure that she only had $300 left, but I was so heated and pissed off from all the donkey comments about me not being friendly and arguing to bet $100 on the flop that it did not even occur to me that she would have no other hand in that spot and did not realize how clouded my judgment was until it was all over. I stand up with a near empty tray welcoming myself to L.A. out loud as the guy to my right has the nerve to try to hit on me as I make my exit.